Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Craving Ina's Coconut Cupcakes!

barefoot contessa coconut cupcakes (click here for recipe))

OK, raise your hands, who likes coconut? I love it, but Hubby on the other hand does not! And that is probably the reason why I've never attempted to make Ina's famous Coconut Cupcakes. I even have the cookbook with the recipe. I've had Ina's Coconut Cupcakes on my mind for years, which is obviously why I'm blogging about them now. Over Mother's Day, I did bring up the subject with Hubby of of doing Ina's Coconut Cupcakes, but Helen's chocolate mousse won out! Hubby and his mother are big chocolate fans, but his father loves coconut. And you know which holiday is around the corner? Question is--should I attempt to do them from scratch or from the box...oh, what to do?

barefoot contessa coconut cupcake mix (click here for the box)

Some Essentials for Summer Gardening!

A Straw Hat From Talbot's

Last week while at work, I overheard Janice, our Assistant Site Director here at the museum, scream, "Twenty-five hundred dollars, you've got to be kidding"! "Lisa and I will do it". After hearing my name being screamed my ears perked up and I said, "So Janice, what will we do?" She said, that their was a twenty-five hundred dollar estimate just to do some pruning, trimming and weeding for the grounds. I enthusiastically screamed back: Yes we'll do it, and we can do it for half the inflated estimate! Janice looked a little shocked that I was so enthusiastic about the prospect of being outside in the heat and the dirt. I suppose she had a hard time picturing me out of my my work uniform--currently a skirt, blouse or dress (depending on what fits these days), and heels. I told Janice, that I loved nothing more then to be outside in nature in my straw hat and gloves and willies, gardening, watering, pruning, and watching Ellie chase squirrels and chipmunks. Just like Leslie, one of our master gardeners who brings her dogs--Toby the stubborn Basset Hound and his shy brother Baily the Cocker Spaniel--to roam the grounds while she plants, prunes and weeds. My ideal of the perfect job--wouldn't you say?

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Perfect Picnic!

A few weeks ago, I asked my buddy Helen if she would like to go see Shakespeare's A Comedy Of Errors, and attempt to do a nice festive picnic before the outdoor performance. Early morning the following day, after asking Helen about the picnic, I spotted an e-mail from her, asking me if Hubby and I liked turkey roll-ups. My response, "Love them!" An hour later, the same day, she sends me another e-mail, "How about black bean salad?" My response, "Sounds great!" Before I sent my response back to her, I had remembered when she offered to bring a spinach artichoke dip to my New Years Day party and I turned her down. Big mistake, because when a trained, experienced, foodie culinary-type person offers to bring food, you accept, especially if your just into pretty presentation!

Crate & Barrel

Later on, as I was getting ready to shut down my computer, I spotted another e-mail, "How about homemade chocolate chip cookies?" My response, " Are you kidding, of course!" The day before the picnic, I started to think what Hubby and I could contribute since Helen already had a perfect menu lined up. As I'm thinking to myself, why can't I ever come up with different things to take on a picnic other then fried chicken and slaw. So I signed up for the wine, cheese, fruit, plates, napkins, utensils, candles, salt & pepper--I know, easy stuff!The plates and napkins were really easy because I had my eye on some Caspari ones that I had been dying to go get at the Fresh Market!

Napkins from Caspari

Saturday morning rolled around (the day of the play & picnic), and Hubby and I are out on the deck drinking coffee and reading the paper without a care in the world. I decided to call Helen to make arrangements with her for Hubby to pick up the chocolate mousse (our Mother's day dessert) that Helen was making (more on that later). As she was rolling up the turkey wraps, she told me that she had been up since seven that morning, the cookies were baking, and she just had a few more finishing touches to do. I felt slightly guilty as I sipped on my third cup of coffee of the morning!

A few years ago, a friend gave me a set of these, I love them because they're small and easy to throw in your picnic basket. From Crate & Barrel

This summer, I plan on doing lots of picnics, so I asked Helen for her black bean salad recipe click here for Black Bean Salad. Helen also noted that she omits the green peppers and pimentoes and instead does two jalapeno peppers and two avocados. So if your looking for something different other then pasta, potato, and slaw for your picnic, trust me you won't go wrong here! Here's to a great summer full of perfect picnics...Ha!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Skin Creams?!!

The last couple of months I've been obsessing over skin creams...this past Saturday morning I was enthralled with an info-mercial with Cindy Crawford, who was promoting her new line of skincare products. Do you want to look like Cindy Crawford? Well, yes, of course I do! Five minutes later, after hearing that the top secret formula contained rare melons produced in the south of France I kept watching... still enthralled. I wanted to hear more about the products, and, more importantly,what the key ingredients were in the secret formula (other than just rare melons from the south of France, but they never really covered that. The info-mercial went from "Do you want to look like Cindy?" back to the rare melons. Now during the whole info-mercial the price kept going down, down, and down to $39.99 for her whole line of products, a steal if you want some really nice smelling rare melon skin care creams. However, memories of the day when I got my Lady Diana haircut (hence wanting to look like Lady Diana) reemerged and I put my credit card back. Not that hair and skin cream have anything to do with one other but I think you get my point!

Then their was this past Sunday morning while reading the Atlanta Journal & Constitution Living section. I noticed LA'Mer's promoting their cream de la mer in their new limited specially designed blue sleeve boxes and it's only $230 for two ounces. No thank you! Even Hubby has heard of LA'Mer. He reads John Stossel.

Anyway, I currently use Revison skincare products such as their Retinol and their firming night cream and have been very happy. Plus the price is not bad either! I've been looking for a good eye cream since the beginning of time (by that I mean a eye cream that is affordable and that works) so a couple of Saturdays ago I asked my good buddy Susan ( See Me and My Aesthetician) for her advice on affordable skincare products that performed. Here's what she had to say. Thanks Buddy!

"I will try to make this short, but when I get started on skin care I tend to go on and on. The main keys to skin care and anti-aging are protection (sunscreen) and a good retinol to exfoliate. Products with antioxidants are great for the skin. They protect and heal. Not all products on the market have the proper amounts of ingredients in them to be effective and the container can leave the ingredients unstable. After much research I have found some affordable products that are easily obtainable (Target and CVS) and think you might like them. I will start with Cleanser- I want it to cleanse and remove my makeup without stripping my skin. "

Cleansers-Neutrogena Anti-Oxidant Age Reversal Cleanser. Around $8.99.

Neutrogena Ageless Restorative Energy Renewal Cleanser. Around $7.99.

Moisturizers/Treatments- Neutrogena Health Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Original Formula. It is a good moisturizer with retinol and anti-oxidants. Around $13.99.

Mutil Correction Eye Treatment (will not diminish dark circles but has a stable retinol with good anti-oxidants) Around $24.99.

ROC Multi Correction Night Treatment
- has good retinol with lots of Vitamin C. Around $24.99.

Hope these ideas are helpful. Please start off slowly with Retinol. Maybe every other night as it can be irritating if overdone.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Stalking Talbots!

I despise shopping. In fact I hate it, but what I despise more is getting ready for work, date night, running errands (like shopping) and not having anything to wear. Another thing is--I love clothes! I wish I could say that I was hip like Nicole Richie and shopped for cool vintage designer pieces but I don’t, because I want it easy! I did come close to buying a vintage piece one day while at an antiques store; I found a great 1940’s cashmere sweater that I wish I would have bought.

Anyway, with spring here and summer around the corner I need clothes--dress pants, blouses, shoes, etc. The funny thing is--last fall, Sylvia, our eighty-something volunteer brought in her Talbots catalog. Quite honestly, a store that I’ve not been into for many, many years. I was mostly an Ann, Banana & Crew type girl. While in Charleston it was all about Banana, but all the other years it has been Ann & the Crew…extremely faithful as you can imagine. Anyway, looking through the fall Talbot’s catalog I noticed several things that I wanted and after being a a little disenchanted with my other stores, I decided to give them a go. So this past January when everything went on sale, I loaded up… black leather riding boots, cords, jeans, peep-toe leather pumps, a coat, ballerina flats, jeans. I was in heaven!
Talbots Straw Tote

Now since March, and having to put away all my fall/winter stuff, I’ve been stalking them for my spring/summer stuff. I have already gotten a few pieces and I’ve tried on several other things that I really want. However, I’m waiting until they go on sale...know what I mean? The other funny thing is Sylvia and I were comparing notes the other day and we are both eyeing the same dress. As Sylvia said “it is the perfect linen dress” and you know what? I could not agree more!

Vachetta City Sandals that I have and I just worn them the other day to work & got tons of compliments..not just from the eighty-year old! Plus they are very comfortable!

Croc-Embossed Crisscross Sandals that I'm stalking.

P.S. While at Talbot's the other day the sales associate said their new designer is from the Crew…I just knew it!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spring...Shopping, Dieting & Getways!

Where does the time go? For me, personally, I've have been busy trying to knock off a few pounds, catching up on some much needed shopping (because of those extra few pounds), working on a few design projects and finally, after five years, taking an Easter trip to my in-laws' mountain cabin with the Hubby and Ellie (who was amazingly invited) up in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Almost forgot, we did sneak in a three day trip to Jeckyl Island....amazingly! It rained mostly, but we didn't care, we were just happy to be at the beach, and little Ellie got her paws wet for the very first time.

Anyway, I was at the bookstore the other day catching up on some reading (Bazaar) and discovered Gwyneth Paltrow's new website GOOP. It covers everything--clothing, dieting, recipes, hip restaurants spots, you name it...I'm hooked! It's nice getting something in e-mail other than... will you know.


P.S. I was reading Paltrow's spot on Nashville, and now wonder to myself if I ever lived there for over three years! Happy Reading!

Speaking of shopping--later my thoughts on Talbots!